December 18, 2019: South African Airways (SAA), which is undergoing business rescue as of now in the face of liquidation, is bringing certain revolution in the South African transport sector. The government is planning to establish a national shipping carrier as part of a push to transform the transportation sector, particularly in the maritime and aviation industries. The country has been without a national carrier since Maersk acquired South African shipping line Safmarine in 1999.

While SAA joins a long list of state-owned entities that were either looted at the height of state capture or are mired in deep financial trouble.

As reported by Business Live, transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced last week that the government has taken over the running of embattled Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) for a year. Mbalula said in written responses to questions published in parliament that the government was looking into the establishment of a national shipping carrier as a means of building strategic national shipping capacity and capability.

“As a maritime nation with a coastline in excess of 2,500 kilometres, which is strategically located on one of the busiest shipping routes surrounded by three oceans on the eastern, western and southern seaboards, we are steadfast on our commitment to position the oceans economy as a strategic contributor to economic stimulation and growth,” he said.

“In recognising our contribution to the country’s efforts towards realising inclusive growth, we must prioritise the acceleration of interventions that will unlock the potential of the oceans economy and drive transformation in an aggressive way.”

He told parliament, “The department will very soon reinstitute the Transport Sector BBBEE (broad-based BEE) Charter Council which will champion the work of the previous charter council and spearhead transformation of the transport sector, particularly industries such as aviation and maritime because of being untransformed.”

The main objectives of the charter council include the facilitation and implementation of programmes to fast-track B-BBEE in the transport sector to ensure that a favourable environment for broad-based BEE to flourish exists.

The council will also ensure implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the transport sector’s B-BBEE codes, which are frameworks that drive the nation towards the empowerment of black people, black employees, black entrepreneurs, black women, black people living with disabilities and black youth within the sector.

The government will also focus on creating awareness in the industry and addressing the skills shortage in ensuring the development of black professionals, and help in tackling acute transformation challenges in the aviation, road freight and maritime sectors.

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